Country Valley Dairy in Picton needs your help
Country Valley in Picton is suffering through a bad drought. This dairy farm with its own dairy makes and distributes Country Valley milk, yoghurt and cream – and is the last remaining dairy farm in the Sydney basin. The drought is forcing John to buy hay throughout winter, which will cost him $1350 per cow. He needs help: sponsor a cow, and bring your family on a farm visit to Picton, just 2 hours south of Sydney. Read his story below and contact him via Facebook (@CountryValleyMilk) or phone 02 4677 2223 to make a donation, big or small…read on below photo.
John Fairley is a 5th generation dairy farmer in Picton. The farm was established nearly 150 years ago and is now one of the last remaining dairies in the Sydney basin. “With the urban sprawl getting ever closer, the harder it becomes to keep places like Picton rural. However, farming is more than a job, it is a way of life and it effects the lives of more than just the families who farm. To us it is not just about dollars and cents but about our heritage and the way we want to see our valley stay as farm land”, says John.
After deregulation of the milk industry in 2000, farmers like John were paid 26c per litre by the milk processors. Which much of NSW in drought, John decided to become ‘Master of his own Fate’: he built his own dairy and started selling milk and yoghurt under the Country Valley brand into the Sydney and Canberra markets. It didn’t take long before he started buying milk from nearby farmers, paying them 20% more than what they got from the processors.
Country Valley went on to win prizes at the Royal Easter Show, and Pepe Saya uses Country Valley cream and milk to make his premium cultured butter.
For a few years, Harvest Hub sold Country Valley products. Our members loved the creamy taste of the fresh milk and the thick yoghurt (without gum) – until the NSW Food Authority tightened the compliance requirements for storing and transporting dairy products which made it prohibitively expensive for small distributors like us.
However, times are lean on the farm right now. Picton, and the wider Wollondilly shire, are in drought. Says John: “The time has come to swallow my pride and ask for help. The realisation that we will be fully feeding cows, all winter, has arrived. Even if it rains next week and we get crops in, it will get cold and we will still have no feed. My 83-yr. old Dad said he has never seen it worse than this.
“One of our options we put on the table to get through the drought was to shut the dairy down. I just can’t do it.
“We have developed the herd over time, milking daughter after daughter. We all grew up helping our Dad’s and Grandfathers on weekends and school holidays. The dairy is a part of who we are. ‘It takes a tribe to raise a child’ resonates with me.
“I want my grandkids to help my son and maybe my daughter in the future.
“I am asking our supporters of Country Valley to adopt a cow or a calf, to help my family get through to Spring. Any amount, with enough people, will help. You will receive a photo of your cow which you can name if you like. Then we are offering a visit to the farm on a roster basis over time. You can introduce yourself, to the cow that is, and me as well of course. You can milk a cow which might not necessarily be yours, depending on the timing. We finish the day by helping to feed the calves and choose a sample bag to take home.
“I have estimated that it will cost $1350 per cow to feed her until the end of September. And I have 130 cows to feed! This is by no means a minimum amount for adoption. I’m just trying to let you know the scale of my problem.
“Anyone kind enough to help out please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your details and we can register you in the Cow Diary. Or call 02 4677 2223 and ask for Sally or Tom in business hours. Any help will be greatly appreciated”.